Gloucester Wildlife Trust explores the wild side of Dursley
Spring is on its way and one town that’s waking up to the dawn chorus is historic and wildlife-rich Dursley, as Sue Bradley discovers
It’s a little-known fact that nobody living in Dursley is further than 670 metres from the edge of woodland. This means that folks who call this historic market town home are collectively that much closer to wildlife than those living in almost every other community in the Cotswolds.
In Dursley it’s not unusual to see greater spotted woodpeckers on bird feeders and encounter badgers crossing lawns, and it’s even possible that dormice venture across the branches of garden trees as they move between the woodland corridor that fringes the western border of the town before stretching along the steep Cotswold scarp slope towards Uley and then Stroud.
Areas of rough grassland between the trees and town are home to a variety of mammals, birds and reptiles and, being east-facing, are warm enough for reptiles such as slow worms and great crested newts.
Meanwhile the River Ewelme, which flows along the eastern edge of Dursley and, in a culverted state, under the town to Cam, from which point it’s known as the River Cam, is lined with trees and hedgerows for much of its length, which offers habitats to a number of species, including bats.
A short walk is all it takes to leave behind Dursley’s shops and offices and stroll under the canopies of trees, such as Twinberrow Woods with its sculpture and play trails.
Many of the woodland areas have been around for so long that they’re mostly ancient semi-natural areas, with some small plantations of conifers. Stretches of trees are also found around the Littlecombe valley
DID YOU KNOW?
The St Mark’s fly takes its name from its prevalence around the time of St Mark’s Day on April 25. This long and shiny fly can often be seen hanging over plants, its legs dangling beneath it.
once occupied by the Lister Petter engine factory, plans for the redevelopment of which include a fair amount of green spaces.
Those in search of striking views can venture towards Stinchcombe Hill, from which it’s possible to gaze upon the River Severn, or lofty spots such as Cam Peak or Cam Longdown, the latter the site of a disused quarry that’s being gradually reclaimed by nature.
The Cotswold Way, the 100mile walking route stretching between Bath and Chipping Campden, passes through Dursley, while those looking for a shorter saunter can opt for the Lantern Way, a circular trail that takes in nearby Uley and Coaley.
Close to Dursley is the worldfamous Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, and the town is just a few miles from Lower Woods nature reserve - one of the largest ancient woodlands in the south-west of England, it is managed by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
Popular local legend has it that William Shakespeare lived in the area for a period, possibly after an episode of deer stealing in Warwickshire, and he demonstrates his knowledge of the surroundings with a reference to Berkeley Castle, as if viewed from above Dursley, along with a description of area’s ‘high wild hills and rough uneven ways’.
Common dog violet
A carpet of Lesser celandines (Ranunculus ficaria) on a roadside verge.